Atari Teenage Riot @ The Junction, Cambridge (24th October 1999)

"I think I'll miss this gig and wash my hair. [Atari Teenage Riot] are confrontational dance hardcore... shocking for the sake of being shocking." So wrote the broad-minded listings editor of local mag The Sticks whilst elsewhere praising Hepburn for encouraging 8-year-olds to buy records, something which is "very importants to the future of the industry." It's pricks like this that ATR are kicking against. The Establishment in all its myriad forms, and the throttling hold it has on people is what leads them to write anthems like "Destroy 2000 years of culture" and shout things like "Do you want a REVOLUTION?" between songs tonight. Unfortunately, this being reserved old Blighty, the crowd aren't entirely sure they do want a revolution, thanks old chap, and "where are the GUNS?" goes down even less well with the Korn t-shirts who just came here to pogo. The 77-throwbacks and techno-crusties make a bit of noise for "BURN down the UNIVERSITIES!!!" but Alec Empire and Hanin Elias, chief screamers, seem to sense there's little prospect of the proletariat storming Parliament (or even the bar) and steam through the set without much further interruption.

Which is a shame because the sloganeering provides the only moments of contrast to the full-on aural assault that Nic Endo coaxes out of a couple of ex-Nasa computers. The balance of the records, where there's (just) room for light and shade in the battering ram beats and distortion, is crushed live, compacted down in harsh bursts of intensity, streams of cathartic gabbled gabba and rusty razor catchphrases but so loud that the parts are virtually indistinguishable in the sum. "Sick to death" and current single, "Too dead for me," are revelatory sandblastings, scouring away the scepticism and leaving a less cynical jut to the facade of the audience, but the lack of down to ease the permanent up means that the band have only one option, the arms race mentality of succeeding each track with one more powerful, and paint themselves into a corner which they only escape from, physically by Empire leaping into the crowd and metaphorically by Endo unleashing a scalding wash of severely treated white noise sans beats which closes the gig.

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